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Pardon my French! EU ‘screwed’ if Covid-weary European Parliament only meets in Brussels, Macron warns

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French President Emmanuel Macron has used colorful language to describe what would happen if EU lawmakers remained in Brussels indefinitely, arguing that concerns about Covid-19 should not stop them from meeting in Strasbourg.

Macron said he was “fighting tooth and nail” to persuade the legislative body that there was no added health risk in returning to northeastern France. Lawmakers have not made their usual monthly trip to Strasbourg since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in February. The parliament’s official seat is in the French city, but plenary sessions as well as most committee meetings take place in the Belgian capital.

“If we accept that the European Parliament only meets in Brussels, we are screwed,” the French leader said while speaking in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday. He said it was vital that EU lawmakers split their time between the two cities, because otherwise “in 10 years everything will be in Brussels and people will only speak among themselves in Brussels.”

The provocative comments come a day after Macron urged the parliament to return to “institutional normality.” In a letter to Parliament President David Sassoli, the French president argued that while the health situation was “difficult” in Strasbourg, it was no more perilous than the current public health situation in Brussels. 

So far it seems Macron has failed to persuade the legislative body. On Monday, the EU Parliament said it would cancel its forthcoming Strasbourg session, which was scheduled to run from October 5-8. 

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